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Philanthropic tales: A critical analysis of how philanthropic citizenship is represented in children’s picture-books – problems and possibilities

Body, Alison, Lacny, Jayne (2022) Philanthropic tales: A critical analysis of how philanthropic citizenship is represented in children’s picture-books – problems and possibilities. Education, Citizenship and Social Justice, 18 (2). pp. 182-196. ISSN 1746-1979. E-ISSN 1746-1987. (doi:10.1177/17461979211061798) (KAR id:91379)

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In this article we critically question how philanthropic citizenship is represented within children’s literature. Critical content analysis of over 100 western children’s picture-books reveals that the majority of children’s contemporary literature frames philanthropy as an individual act of personal responsibility which takes place in the private sphere, focusing on singular acts of kindness and generosity, overlooking connections between the cause and wider societal socioeconomic, political, environmental and/or social justice issues. Furthermore, many stories reinforce concerning traditional and stereotypical ideas of gender, race, and power. Nonetheless, we also identify several books which notably seek to move beyond this, connecting acts of philanthropy to wider ideological, economic, and political factors, placing a strong emphasis on social justice. In conclusion, we call for further research to explore how philanthropic stories are used within the home and classroom, and what children interpret as the ‘good philanthropic citizen’ through these stories.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/17461979211061798
Uncontrolled keywords: Philanthropic citizenship; children’s literature; social justice; picture-books; philanthropy; voluntary action
Subjects: H Social Sciences
L Education
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
Funders: University of Kent (
Depositing User: Alison Body
Date Deposited: 06 Nov 2021 11:48 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2023 13:01 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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Body, Alison.

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Lacny, Jayne.

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